Vince Sieben

Sexton Chair in Ocean Sensing

Dr. Vincent Sieben is an Associate Professor in the Electrical Engineering Department at Dalhousie University, where he holds the Sexton Research Chair in Underwater Sensing. 

Dr. Sieben received his doctorate from the University of Alberta in 2009 in micro-electromechanical systems and nanosystems.  He has spent 15-years designing and creating lab-on-chip sensors in both industry and academia.

From 2009 to 2011, he conducted pioneering research on the first lab-on-chip nutrient and microbiology sensors for the deep ocean at the National Oceanography Center in Southampton, UK.  For the past 7 years, Dr. Sieben worked for Schlumberger and was the lead scientist on the team that delivered MazeTM SARA analysis.  MazeTM is the first commercialization of a microfluidic sensor in the oil and gas industry.  While in Schlumberger, Dr. Sieben also developed expertise in Autonomous Underwater Vehicles and Robotics for inspection and maintenance of subsea energy assets. 

Dr. Sieben has actively published in the areas of microfabrication, lab-on-a-chip, optics, and in situ sensors for environmental monitoring.  He has authored over 40 peer-reviewed journal and conference publications and has been granted 5 patents with 9 more patent applications pending.  Dr. Sieben is a registered Professional Engineer in the province of Alberta.

At Dalhousie University, Dr. Sieben’s team is developing rugged sensors for the deep ocean, centered around chemical & biological oceanography and for inspection of oil and gas infrastructure. Increased utilization of the world's oceans has made it important for industrialized countries to actively monitor marine environments. The ocean, like many aquatic environments, is presently under-sampled both spatially and temporally due to current approaches to data gathering. Expeditions are manual and labour intensive, relying on highly-qualified crews and highly-equipped ships that are essentially "labs-on-the-ocean." Instead, the team aims to put the "lab-on-a-chip."

The focus on advanced microfabrication techniques will enable breakthroughs for in situ chemical and biological sensors.  Miniature nutrient & trace metal sensors, flow-cytometers and genetic analyzers provide new sensing capabilities for low-cost autonomous water vehicles and distributed networks.  The team's goal is to equip a fleet of autonomous water vehicles with novel microfluidic sensors for marine biogeochemistry and hydrocarbon analysis. 

The program is multi-disciplinary, covering process-level design, algorithm conception and implementation, microfabrication and MEMS creation, protocol development, optical systems characterization, novel fluid manipulation architectures, and integration of sensors with underwater vehicle platforms.  The team benefits from active engagement with industry to merge the exciting worlds of microfabrication, fluid analysis, and robotics for creating solutions to relevant problems.

These innovative in situ sensors are central to providing remote feedback on ocean chemistry and microbiology.  They will allow us to safeguard human health, advance our knowledge of marine chemical and biological processes, and be made aware of environmental concerns before they are harmful and costly to remediate.